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Full text of "Flora Indica Vol-I"

INTRODUCTORY  ESSAY.                           .    . 33
discriminate varieties,, as by the botanist to distinguish spe-
cies. The student should be on his guard to avoid being led
astray by dominant ideas on this subject, and fancying that
the aspect of a species to which he is most accustomed is thfcf
typical one of its race. Let him examine well, in their native
forests, the Pines (those most variable of plants). Let him
compare Piniis longifolia from a deep dell in the humid at-
mosphere of Kumaon, Nipal, or Sikkim, with the same tree
growing on a sandstone rock in the arid climate of the Pan-
jab. Let him contrast the Larch of Switzerland or the Tyrol,
with that cultivated in our ^English plantations, or the common
Scotch fir of the sandy plains of North Germany, with the
same tree on the higher Alps 5 or attempt to give limits to the
variations of the. Yew-tree everywhere, whether wild or culti-
vated. Our Junipers, Willows, Birches, and Roses, will afford
in abundance similar instances of great mutability of form,
with no modification of essential characters; and the gardener
makes of one and the same species, or even variety, a standard
or espalier, a tree or shrub, an erect or decumbent plant.
Most of these instances, and many others, must be fami-
liar to botanists; yet we believe we shall meet with few sup-
porters in the opinion we have formed, and to which direct
observation has led us, that habit alone, when unaccompanied
by characters, in the organs of reproduction especially, is of
no specific weight whatever*
As we write, a hundred instances of protean habit in In- *
dian plants crowd upon our memory. The common Yew, which
id indigenous throughout the whole length of the Himalaya
and in the Khasia mountains, wherever it grows in-the deep
forests is a tall tree, witjx naked trunk, rivalling in dimen-
sions the giant pines and oaks with which it is surrounded;
on the skirts of the same forests it is a lax, almost prostrate
bush, while on open slopes it becomes a stout, dense, tabular-
branched free. The llosc-, Spiraea, and Berberry of the West-
ern Himalaya are truly protean in character, being abundant
in all situations,^—whether forming underwood in forest, or